High School Junior Flies Solo in Airplane
On the morning of March 27, 2013, against a challenging northwest crosswind, Emmanuel “Manny” Arellano completed his first solo flight at the age of 17. Arellano, the son of Carolina and Arturo Arellano of Chicago, IL, marked the occasion by successfully completing three take-offs and three landings alone in a Cessna 172 airplane at Front Royal-Warren County Airport in Front Royal, VA. Arellano is a junior at Randolph-Macon Academy, a Front Royal boarding school that features a flight program.
“Manny is a great student, and he always asked a lot of questions,” said Randolph-Macon Academy Flight Director Laura Abraham. “He wanted to make sure he was doing everything correctly. I always have fun flying with him!”
Since he was old enough to understand the concept of flight, Arellano has wanted to be a pilot. He doesn’t remember a time when he wanted to be anything else. So while he wasn’t too sure about the idea of attending a boarding school when his mom first brought it up, it took only one thing to make him warm to the proposal: the flight program at Randolph-Macon Academy.
“Boarding school sounded like a good idea,” said Arellano. “It sounded like an adventure. I wanted to be on my own, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to be, especially so far away. I was intimidated at first, but you get used to it pretty quickly.”
Arellano arrived at Randolph-Macon in the fall of 2010 and promptly found his place as part of the football team, playing lineman on both offense and defense.
“Manny is an outstanding young man who puts forth great effort in everything he does,” said Head Football Coach Frank Sullivan. “He has a great personality and leads by example to his peers. I consider it a privilege to coach him in football and oversee him with his High Flight physical training.”
In the High Flight program, Arellano is preparing for the second part of his dream: to earn an appointment to the Naval Academy or the Air Force Academy. His ultimate goal is to become a fighter pilot.
“Manny is one of the rare people his age who have known what they want to do since they were in grade school,” R-MA Commandant Col Gary Sadler, USAF Ret, said. “He has remained totally committed to that goal.”
Arellano’s commitment has driven him to become involved in key areas of Randolph-Macon Academy that will help him achieve his goal. In addition to being part of the High Flight program and taking the flying lessons and ground school, he has participated on the drill team, honor guard team, and color guard team. He holds a 4.0 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society. He also participates in the Alpha Readers Book Club on campus. In addition to football, he has competed in swimming as well as track and field. He is also the India Flight Sergeant in the cadet corps, responsible for helping to take care of the other students assigned to his hall.
Having accomplished step one of his goals by flying solo for the first time, Arellano is now working towards his next goal: obtaining his private pilot certificate before his high school graduation in 2014.
"He's a 4.0 GPA student, dedicated athlete, corps leader, trusted friend, and outstanding flight student,” Sadler commented. “It’s no wonder he's always smiling, upbeat, and positive.”
Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA), founded in 1892, is a college-preparatory, coeducational boarding school for students in grades 6 through 12. Students in grades 9-12 participate in R-MA’s 91st Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), and have the opportunity to fly in a unique flight program. R-MA is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is located in Front Royal, VA.